If you’ve known me for anytime at all, you know that I’m huge fan of the Andy Griffith Show. In fact, I named my son Griffith in honor of the show. Everyday after school I used to come home, make a bowl of Ramen Noodles, open a bag of Doritos, and head to Mayberry for the afternoon. I love everything about the show! But the show would not be what it is without the bumbling deputy, Barney Fife.
On more than one occasion, Andy and Barney are featured in newspaper articles where they captured some criminals. And almost every time they make the headlines, somebody gets Barney’s name wrong. Bernie Fife. Barney Fike. Bernard Fise. As kind as Barney is, he always wants to be known and recognized. He wants people to know his name and get his name right. In fact, whenever Barney reads these misprints, he often boils with rage and always calls the newspaper to let them know their mistake.
Barney wants his name said… And chances are, you do too. A name communicates that we have value. It communicates that we belong and that we have an identity. Why do you think parents take such care in picking out a name when their baby is born? Because names are important.
However, as we get older, it seems like we put less and less emphasis on names. We say things like, “Hey you!”, or “Hey fella.” And these generic greetings don’t communicate value and honor - they communicate obscurity. Many of us are okay with saying, “I’m not good with names.”
But what if that’s a major reason we aren’t reaching as many people for Jesus as we’d like? If names communicate honor and value, don’t you think it’s the least we could do to begin building a relationship with someone in hopes that they come to know Jesus? In fact, Jesus was one for using names:
When we use someone’s name, it’s a way to make things personal because it communicates value and honor. It may seem like a small thing, but it has a big impact! Everyone likes to hear their name said.
So if you want to get better at names, here’s some practical steps you can take:
1. When you first learn the name, say the name out loud. “My name is Peter… Hi PETER, nice to meet you.” Repetition will help with the learning process.
2. Utilize your notes app… I often keep a name note where I write down people’s name to study later.
3. Pray for the name… Right after meeting someone, say a quick prayer for them.
4. Utilize a mnemonic device. If you watch the Office, Michael Scott might be of some help to you with this one :)
5. Discover the story behind the name. Everyone has a story. And if you ask the right questions you can learn who that person is, not just their name.
Names communicate value and honor. And if you want to get personal with others, it starts by learning their name. It’s a simple practice, but it creates a big impact!
If you want to learn more about learning names and why it’s important check out the book It’s Personal. If you have your own tricks for learning names, we’d love to hear about them in the comments!